The Cycles Of Life Part 4
Posted on: 2016 07 16
Now that you have done some research and are aware of some resources, compile a list of them and share it with your siblings or other family members. Ideally, you are having relaxed, on-going conversations with your loved ones about their health and lots of other matters-now it is time to bring up “the future.” Asking them to envision where they see themselves getting older can be a great conversation starter. Ask open-ended questions and give them time and space to answer. Over the course of these conversations discuss as many scenarios, as possible. Some examples include failing health for one or both of them, thoughts on driving through the years, what if there is a medical emergency, etc. Please be patient, thoughtful and empathetic with your responses. These are not the kinds of conversations they want to have however they are extremely important so keep the dialogue going. If you have done research already, you may be able to address some of their concerns. If you can’t help in the moment, make a mental note and look it up later. Asking about their friends is another good conversation starter. It may be another way to discuss the what-if scenarios. Another term that often comes up in this new cycle is “goals.” Our society doesn’t attribute “goal-setting” to the retired and aging set; in my opinion this must change. During your discussions, introduce “goals” to your loved ones. At this stage, utilize the conversations to help them distill their goals for where they want to be: now, in 5 years, in 10 years and beyond. From these discussions, you will learn important information which can help you guide them with future plans plus you will gain insight into specific values and concerns they may have. Try, to keep their goals in mind. Listen to them, they are wise and their thoughts, values and concerns are valid even if you don’t understand them. Again, this cycle is about them, they put up with you and your siblings didn’t they? Yes, yes they did. Through these discussions, especially regarding where they see themselves in the future, I think most of our loved ones would answer that they would like to remain independent and living in their house, condo, or apartment for as long as possible. They are settled and comfortable there so it makes sense, change can be difficult and I believe that as we get older, change is even more difficult. The term for our older loved ones staying in their home is “aging-in-place.” To be realistic about aging-in-place some changes may have to happen. Discussions about stages of aging should remain thoughtful, respectful and honest. Maybe your loved ones are fine to stay forever in the four bedroom 2-story house that you were raised in; every family’s situation is unique. Maybe a goal is set to work on preparing the house for sale within one year. Maybe you can help them to see what other living options are available, such as independent living in a 55+ community. Moving can be such an overwhelming process; you may want to hire a specialist. Armistead Senior Care offers Transitions Consulting Service. Transitions is designed specifically to help seniors and their families “right-size” their current home or “down-size” for a move to a new home. No matter where your loved ones are planning to live, some home modifications may be necessary. Home modifications include everything from installing outdoor motion-sensor lighting and railings, constructing ramps, widening doorways, modifying doorknobs, installing a chair lift on the stairs, adding handles and grab bars to toilets and tubs, and installing a roll-in shower or a low-rise step into the tub. It is always nice to have someone handy in the family but obviously you want to do your research on anyone you hire for any home modifications. The National Association of Homebuilders offers a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) database of contractors who have earned this designation. Communication continues to be important while working as a team and having a goal that everyone understands will make life easier. This is the foundation; the cycle will continue.